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Hold up play & Counting losers

#1 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 11:21

Hi all

I have two quetions in particular:

1) I do not quite ged the hold up play. When am I supposed to duck? (it is the same as to 'hold up', right?) I think it has something to do with disrupting entries for my opponents, what how does it work and why in particular? Can it be used on any other matter?

2) I have been struggling with counting loser points. How do I do it? Am I to consider my cards and the dummy's cards together? Dealing with suits separately, one by one? Why could I not just count winners when playing a play with a trump?

Thank you
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#2 User is offline   CSGibson 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 11:46

1) Hold up plays most frequently occur in NT. You should think about a hold-up play if they have attacked the suit that you are most afraid of, and if holding up doesn't cost you a trick (IE, think twice about holding up with Jx opposite ATx, as you have a 2nd stopper if you win an honor with the ace). The purpose of a hold-up play is to exhaust communication between defenders, so that you can lose a trick to the defender without any more cards in the threat suit without having the whole threat suit run against you. Defenders can also use a hold-up play, also to exhaust communications. If dummy has KQJTxx in a suit with no outside entries, and you have Axx, if you withhold taking the ace until declarer is out of that suit, he will have several winners stranded in dummy with no way of getting to them. Once again, this is mainly a play to disrupt communication. It can be used in any situation as defender when you want declarer to exhaust entries, too. If you don't take the K when declarer finesses AQJx into you, he will often use an entry back to hand so that he can repeat the finesse - exhausting that entry might be the purpose of your hold-up play, as it may give you a tempo in the suit, or just give partner a chance to signal something else important to the defense (another reason to hold-up - it gives partner a chance to signal)

2) counting losers and winners are both important, you should not ignore either one. For example, if you have AKQJT9 xxx xxx x opposite x xxx xxx AKQJT9, you have 12 winners as soon as you get in. Does that mean you want to be in slam? No. The defenders have the tempo to take 6 winners of their own (or, in other words, your losers) in any suit contract, and more in no trump. Despite having 12 winners between the two hands, you may go down at the 2 level.

When counting losers, you should consider the combined assets in dummy and your hand for each suit, and then add them together to get your total loser count.

Losers are easy to count - you just figure out how many tricks you are certain to lose as "sure losers", and then add in some tricks that you might lose as "potential losers". If you have xxx in a suit opposite xxx, you count 3 sure losers in that suit. If you have xxx opposite Qxx, you still count 3 likely losers (2 sure, 1 potential loser that is very likely to be lost), but there's the potential that you might not lose one of them if something good happens. If you have xxx opposite Kx, you count 1 loser for sure, and maybe 2 depending on the position of the ace. Your plan as declarer has to take into account what your immediate loser situation is, how many tempos you need to establish your winners, how many tempos they need to establish more defensive winners, and all that jazz. Loser count isn't the be all and end all, but it should be an important consideration in planning your declarer play.
Chris Gibson
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#3 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 11:47

It's a shame you didn't ask in N/B.
About (1), consider declaring a contract of 3NT with:
Axx Kxx KQJT Axx
opposite this dummy:
xx AQx xxxx KQxx

The lead is a spade. You count your top winners and discover you have only seven, eight if clubs are 3-3. This means you have to develop another trick, and the only possible source is diamonds.
Alas, if you win the ace of spades and then play a diamond, whoever has the ace will win it, and continue spades. If spades are 4-4 you will still make, but if one of the defenders has five spades, he will score four spade tricks (you won the first with your ace) and together with the ace of diamonds, you will go down.
Instead, you could refuse to win the first two rounds of spades, and only win the third. That's the "hold up" play, or a duck. What good is that? If spades are split 4-4 between the defenders, you've gained nothing and lost nothing, compared to winning the first round. They will take three spade tricks and the ace of diamonds.
However, if the spades are 5-3 (or worse!), and the ace of diamonds happens to be in the hand that started with three spades, you've managed to secure your contract - since he won't have a spade to return to his partner, and you can win a return in any other suit. So, by holding up you've lost nothing when spades are 4-4, and gained something when spades are 5-3 and the ace of diamonds is comfortably placed.
There are variations on this theme, but at the beginner level this is the most common scenario for a hold-up play - declaring no-trump and trying to make sure whoever wins a trick you have to lose can't continue your weak suit.
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#4 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 14:04

There's a rule of thumb that tells you how many times you should usually hold up in a NT contract, when you only have the suit stopped once: subtract the number of cards you hold in the suit from 7. So in Antrax's example, you have 5 spades, 7-5 = 2, so you hold up 5 times. But if you have Axx opposite xxx, you only need to hold up once. The opposing distrubution you're protecting against is 5-2; if they're 4-3 they can only take 3 spades and the A after you win the second .

If you have more stoppers, you can reduce the hold-ups by 1 for each of them.

#5 User is offline   S2000magic 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 14:56

View Postbarmar, on 2012-April-05, 14:04, said:

. . . you have 5 spades, 7-5 = 2, so you hold up 5 times.

Oops.

;)
BCIII

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Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
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#6 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 15:22

Go immediately to bookstore or library, find William Root, "How to play a bridge hand". Start reading. All will be clear soon enough. It seems you have gone past what the "learn to play bridge" tutorial has covered.
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#7 User is offline   Lesh18 

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Posted 2012-April-06, 16:55

Yes, I am closely following the ACBL software.

In NT contracts when I, as a declarer, need to make some finesses to succeed, I need to identify a dangerous and a safe opponent. The dangerous one is the one with the long suit and the safe opponent is the one with the short suit in colour that they can use to win successive tricks.

How do I identify who is dangerous and who is safe?
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#8 User is offline   S2000magic 

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Posted 2012-April-06, 17:19

Usually the opening leader will lead his longest suit, and if it's 5 cards or longer he may be able to set you if he can take all the long cards in that suit. In that case, LHO (left-hand opponent, the opening leader) is most likely the dangerous hand, and RHO (right-hand opponent) is the safe hand. You would like to hold up your stopper until the RHO is out of cards in LHO's suit. After that, if you have a choice which direction to finesse, you finesse toward RHO and through LHO; for example, if dummy has

A J 6 4

and you hold

K 10 7 3

you would take your K, then lead toward dummy, planning to finesse the J.

Sometimes, it's more complicated, usually when you cannot afford to hold up. Let's say that you're in 3NT, LHO opens the 6, dummy has

9 8 4

and you hold

K J 3.

You play the 9 from dummy, RHO plays the 10, and you win the J.

Now, RHO is the dangerous hand: if he wins a trick, he might lead a heart through your K 3 to LHO's (presumed) A Q x x, and you'll lose four more heart tricks. But LHO is the safe hand: if he wins a trick he has to lead a different suit or else let you win the K. (If LHO leads hearts, your K is safe no matter who holds the A.)

In this case, with the spades shown above, you would lead low to the A, then finesse the 10, making sure that RHO cannot gain the lead.

On each hand, you should ask yourself, "If RHO wins a trick, can he make a lead that will hurt me? If LHO wins a trick, can he make a lead that will hurt me?" If the answer to either question is, "No," then you play so that only that safe opponent can win a trick, and his dangerous partner cannot.

Sometimes you don't have a choice. If you're missing an ace in a suit you have to establish, then all you can do is hold up as long as you can in LHO's long suit, then lead from the suit you want to establish and hope that RHO has the A. If so, you're fine; if not, LHO will win the A and take his long card tricks - Oh, well!

Here are two simple hands, playing in 3NT:

Dummy
A J 6 4
9 8 4
A Q 3
K 5 4

Declarer
K 10 7 3
A 7 3
K 9 2
A 9 8

LHO opens 5, dummy plays 8, RHO 10, and declarer 3.

If the opponent's hearts are 4-3, you're OK: you can lose 3 heart tricks and the Q and still win 9 tricks. If they're 5-2, you could lose 4 heart tricks and the Q, so you hold up your A. RHO returns the 7 and now you can win your A; if the hearts are 5-2, RHO is now out of hearts. LHO is dangerous, RHO is safe.

You take the K and finesse the J. If it wins, you have 9 tricks (and 10 if the spades split 3-2); if it loses, you still have 9 tricks (3 spades, 1 heart, 3 diamonds, 2 clubs). If RHO has another heart to lead, you'll lose at most the Q and 3 heart tricks.

Dummy
A J 6 4
9 8 4
A Q 3
K 5 4

Declarer
K 10 7 3
K J 3
K 9 2
A 9 8

LHO opens 5, dummy plays 8, RHO 10, and declarer J. Here, you cannot afford to hold up, because RHO could lead through your K J to LHO's (possible) A Q x x.

This time, RHO is dangerous, and LHO is safe. You take the A and finesse the 10. If it wins, you have 9 tricks (and 10 if the spades split 3-2); if it loses, you still have 9 tricks (3 spades, 1 heart, 3 diamonds, 2 clubs). If LHO leads another heart, you'll win your K.
BCIII

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Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
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#9 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-April-06, 17:53

Good explanation! B-)
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#10 User is offline   Statto 

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Posted 2012-April-06, 21:24

View Postbarmar, on 2012-April-05, 14:04, said:

There's a rule of thumb that tells you how many times you should usually hold up in a NT contract, when you only have the suit stopped once: subtract the number of cards you hold in the suit from 7. So in Antrax's example, you have 5 spades, 7-5 = 2, so you hold up 5 times. But if you have Axx opposite xxx, you only need to hold up once. The opposing distrubution you're protecting against is 5-2; if they're 4-3 they can only take 3 spades and the A after you win the second .

This works when you have to give up one trick to set up some tricks. But if you have to give up 2 tricks, then even a 4-3 split will be of concern, and it is then best to hold up for 2 rounds and hope the same opponent wins both the tricks you have to give up, and is the one who started with 3 or fewer in the suit led. E.g.

Dummy
7 6 3
K 7 4
Q 10 5 2
A J 4

Declarer
A 8 4
A Q 6
J 9 6 4
K Q 3

Playing in 3NT, you only have 7 top tricks, and need to set up 2 tricks in to make the contract. On a lead and continuation, you should hold up the A until the 3rd round. Now you need to hope that one opponent has both A and K and no more . It's a slim chance but the only chance. If you were to play A on the 2nd round, and break 4-3, the opponent with A and K who started with 3 will still have a left to lead to their partner to defeat the contract.
A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem – Albert Einstein
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#11 User is offline   S2000magic 

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Posted 2012-April-06, 22:03

View PostStatto, on 2012-April-06, 21:24, said:

This works when you have to give up one trick to set up some tricks. But if you have to give up 2 tricks, then even a 4-3 split will be of concern, and it is then best to hold up for 2 rounds and hope the same opponent wins both the tricks you have to give up, and is the one who started with 3 or fewer in the suit led.

Excellent point!

(And nice hand layout, too. ;) )
BCIII

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Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
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